The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has approximately 3,500 employees, including:
- 1242 elementary teachers
- 808 secondary teachers
- close to 1400 union and non-union support and administrative staff (which includes secretaries, custodial and maintenance staff, education assistants, professional and paraprofessional staff, technicians, principals, vice-principals, supervisors and senior staff).
Approximately 75% of the board's employees are women. The breakdown for each employee group is as follows:
- Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - approximately 75% women
- Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) - approximately 80% women
- Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) - approximately 52% women
- Ontario Principals' Council (OPC) - approximately 67% women
- Administrative and Leadership Group(ALG) - approximately 62% women.
We do not have data on minorities who work in the board as that information is not tracked.
The Director of the board is now female (hooray!) but her senior leadership team is still male dominant. There are 6 men and only 3 women on the senior leadership team. This gives a ratio of 2 men for every 1 woman. It's not ideal but it's better than the previous rate of 3:1 and better than the ratio of 3.5 to 1 before that.
The phrase “glass ceiling” was coined in the 80s to describe the challenges women have in being promoted to upper levels of management in business. Today, it’s defined as an “unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.” The term is used as a metaphor to describe invisible barriers – the glass – through which women are able to see senior positions although they can't attain them – the ceiling. Glass ceilings exist even though there are no stated obstacles keeping women from taking on high level management positions. Employers and organizations don't tell women they can't apply for these positions because equal employment opportunity laws don't allow this kind of discrimination. The reasons women don't get these jobs are hidden.
Glass ceilings are about perceptions. Whether or not perceptions are true, they perpetuate the continuation of the glass ceiling. Perceptions are what people believe. People translate their beliefs intoactions, attitudes and bias.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) says that based on the small incremental changes Canada has made in gender equality at the senior management level over the last 20 years, it will take 228 years to close the gender gap in Canada.
Conventional wisdom says that women are distracted by raising their children and they make work-life balance decisions that favour their family over their career. There is no doubt that these do play a role in why there are fewer women in leadership positions but unconscious bias plays a role too. The thing about unconscious bias is that it's unconscious and affirmative action policies don't address this.
Discrimination today is not about gender-based insults. It's about people making decisions that are unconsciously influenced by their beliefs, attitudes and values. If the people making decisions about promotions believe deep down that white men make better leaders, or women are too emotional or too weak to make difficult decisions, or minorities don't make good leaders, then the likelihood is that they will encourage and promote white men without even realizing they are doing that.
Unconscious bias affects everyone. It's not easily eradicated but realizing it exists and working together to eliminate it is a very worthwhile goal.